Health Highlights: Jan. 14, 201101/14/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Multaq Heart Drug Linked to Liver Damage: FDA
There have been several reports of liver damage in patients
taking the new heart drug Multaq, including two cases where
patients' livers had to be removed, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration said Friday.
A new warning about the risk of liver damage will be added to
the drug's label, the agency said. The drug already carries a black
box warning (the most severe type) that alerts doctors and patients
the drug can cause severe complications, including death, in people
with recent heart failure, the
Associated Press reported.
Patients taking Multaq should contact their doctor if they
notice symptoms of liver problems, including nausea, vomiting and
fever, the FDA said.
The agency approved the drug in July 2009 to treat the heart
rhythm problems atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, the
Hypertension Drug Avalide Recalled
About 64 million tablets of the high blood pressure drug Avalide
have been recalled due to a manufacturing error that could affect
the drug's efficacy, say Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and
Certain batches of the drug may contain an active ingredient
called irbesartan, which is less able to dissolve in the stomach
Dow Jones Newswires reported.
The recalled lots of Avalide were sold in the United States,
Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Argentina.
This is the second recall of the drug in recent months. About 60
million tablets were recalled in September,
Dow Jones reported.
Chew Bars Recalled Due to High Lead Levels
Concerns about lead levels have prompted the recall of all Toxic
Waste brand Nuclear Sludge Chew Bars.
A test conducted by the California Department of Health found
that a lot of the bars contained elevated levels of lead (0.24
parts per million), which could threaten the health of infants,
small children and pregnant women. The U.S. limit is 0.1 ppm.
The recall covers all flavors of 0.7-ounce (20-gram) Nuclear
Sludge Chew Bars, which were made in Pakistan and sold in the
United States by Indianapolis-based Candy Dynamics.
For more information, contact the company at 317-228-5012 Monday
through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
Aretha Franklin Says She Doesn't Have Pancreatic Cancer
Aretha Franklin says there is no truth to reports she has
The 68-year-old Queen of Soul admits she had a recent health
scare but wouldn't provide any details. She suffered pain so bad it
brought her to her knees. She decided to cancel any further
concerts while she sought answers from doctors.
"I went through a number of procedures before I knew what was wrong," she told ACCESS Hollywood.
Franklin said she doesn't know how the pancreatic cancer story
starting making the rounds.
"I was sitting there reading the newspaper and it was saying someone in my family said that," she told ACCESS Hollywood. "No one in my family ever said that to anybody."
House to Vote Next Week on Repeal of Health Care Law
House Republicans intend to hold a vote next week to repeal the
health care law. The vote was scheduled to take place this week but
there was a weeklong pause in legislative business to honor the
Arizona shooting victims.
Republicans contend that the health care law is too expensive.
But Democrats point to an analysis by the non-partisan
Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that repealing the law
will add $230 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade,
It's likely that the tone of the debate will closely watched in
the wake of the Arizona shooting spree in which Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords, D-Arizona, was wounded and six people were killed.
Even if the House votes to repeal the health care law, there's
little chance it will survive the Senate or a promised veto by
President Barack Obama,
End Free Medicare Home Visits: Panel
A significant new out-of-pocket charge for home health visits
could be imposed on Medicare recipients if lawmakers heed a
recommendation released Thursday by the Medicare Payment Advisory
Currently, there is no charge for home health visits from nurses
and other health providers. The advisory panel said a copayment is
needed to discourage overuse and possible fraud of the $20
billion-per-year program, the
Associated Press reported.
The congressionally-appointed commission voted 13-1 to recommend
that Congress implements the new charge. Two members abstained and
one was absent.
While the panel did not specify an amount, its staff has
suggested that Medicare recipients be charged $150 for a series of
related home visits, the
Study Questions Exclusive Breastfeeding for Six Months
Some experts are challenging a new study that questions whether
breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months is best for a
The British researchers concluded that babies fed only breast
milk might suffer iron deficiency and be more likely to develop
allergies. Babies should be weaned on to solids as early as four
months, said the study,
Agence France-Presse reported.
The researchers did say that breastfeeding exclusively for six
months may be the best recommendation for mothers in developing
countries, where there are higher infection-related death rates.
But in developed nations, it may lead to health problems and
"reduce the window for introducing new tastes."
"Bitter tastes, in particular, may be important in the later acceptance of green leafy vegetables, which may potentially affect later food preference with influence on health outcomes such as obesity," the study authors wrote.
"I really must challenge the suggestion from the review that the U.K. should reconsider its current advice on exclusive breastfeeding for six months," said Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives in the U.K., AFP reported.
"I believe that this is a retrograde step and plays into the hands of the baby food industry which has failed to support the six-month exclusive breastfeeding policy in the U.K.," she added.
Many Pregnant Women Have Toxic Chemicals in Body: Study
The typical pregnant woman in the United States has a number of
potentially toxic or cancer-causing chemicals in her body,
according to a new study.
Detectable levels of eight types of chemicals were found in the
blood or urine of nearly all the 268 women included in the study.
The researchers said many of those chemicals pass through the
placenta and concentrate in the fetus,
USA Today reported.
The chemicals include: flame retardants; pesticides; car exhaust
pollution; PCBs (toxic industrial chemical banned in 1979);
perchlorate (used in rocket fuel); PFCs (used in non-stick
cookware), and phthalates (used in many fragrances and
The study was published Friday in the journal
Environmental Health Perspectives.
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